Big water, fast times on Homestake Creek
1 Alec Voorhees
2 Isaac Levinson
3 Nicholas Troutman
1 Nouria Newman
2 Adriene Levknecht
3 Jennifer Chrimes
RED CLIFF — The biggest competition water Homestake Creek has ever seen resulted in new record times Thursday at the GoPro Mountain Games Steep Creek Championship kayaking competition.
The fact that a competition even happened was a testament to how far the Homestake Creek event has come, said last year’s winnner, Dane Jackson.
“I’ve raced this pretty much every year it’s happened,” Jackson said. “We’ve definitely seen flows like this on Homestake, but this is the first year that we’ve actually been able to race in the high water. Luckily, the safety team was on board and said let’s double up the safety and see what happens.”
NEWCOMER UPSETS FIELD
Jackson set a new course record on his very first run of the day, leading the field as the only boater to run the course in under 1:29:00 with a 1:28:41. He couldn’t repeat in finals, however, and up and comer Alec Voorhees of Meridian, Idaho, won with a time of 1:29:14. It was only the second Homestake Creek race of the 19-year-old’s career; he said the high water played to his strengths.
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“This is my first win in a big event,” he said after the competition. “The flows are probably three, four times higher than normal, which fits well with my style, coming from the North Fork of the Payette (River). The top half is really chaotic and splashy, waves over your head, which is like my home run.”
Women’s winner Nouria Newman said she took a beating en route to victory.
“My first run was a disaster,” she said. “I flipped and couldn’t roll fast enough, went in the worst spot, upside down hitting rocks — head, shoulder, everywhere — kind of battled through the finish, but it was just horrible, everywhere.”
TRIPLE THE CFS
Newman wasn’t the only one to take a beating. Several live-bait rescues were performed, where officials — attached to a rope — swam after competitors who became separated from their boats, jumping in like bait at the end of a fishing line.
Third-place finisher and Homestake Creek veteran Nick Troutman said the event, and the sport itself, has blossomed to a level during the past few years where it can now handle conditions like competitors saw on Thursday.
“This creek is kind of notorious for being pretty low volume, there’s a lot of rocks in there and not a lot of water,” Troutman said. I think the lowest we’ve ever raced it is around 50 cfs; I think the highest we’ve ever raced it was in the 200s. Today we’re talking like 600, so we’re talking triple the highest it’s ever been. There’s no question that if this happened five years ago even they would probably have to cancel, but the fact that the event has been getting higher class every year, better safety … and the racers themselves train a lot more and are more ready for this kind of whitewater.”
Newman said Homestake is scary in any conditions.
“My props to the safety crew,” she said. “We’re racing here, and it’s hard, but we also have to remember that it’s also super hard for them to keep us as safe as possible, and it’s not without risk for them.”